In the retirement system newsletter I get from Alabama, I just saw a listing of states, the source of which is given as Norcross, Elleen and Olivia Gonzales,"Ranking the States by Fiscal Condition, 2017 Edition," Mercatus Research at George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, July 2017. The measures that go into computing their overall index of "fiscal condition" are not given in the newsletter, but one may find them in the original publication.

I was pleased to find Montana number 10 and Alabama, where we resided before this move, made 12. I began to wonder what might be tile connection between its fiscal ranking and how the state voted in the last presidential election, so from the web I found a list of which states were won by Trump and which by Clinton.

The top 13 fiscal states all voted Republican, as did 14 of the top 15. Among the bottom 15 states, 11 voted Democrat. I did a little arithmetic and computed that the average fiscal ranking of a Republican state was 19.47, whereas the average Democrat state ranked 34.1 — this is of 50 places, recall, and smaller is better. I confess I have forgotten how to do a statistical test to show whether it's plausible that the difference in averages could be attributed to a random variation, but the whopping magnitude, 34.1 vs. 19.47, suggests it is not. I did remember how to do a little more arithmetic, though. Assuming that in any fiscal ranking position, the state is equally likely to be Republican or Democrat, then the probability that the top 13 would all be Republican equals 0.000122, or one out of 8,192 chances. To me, that unlikelihood erases the possibility of randomness. I must conclude there is something about its party voting in 2016 that is correlated to a state's fiscal ranking.

Larry E. Stanfel

Roundup

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